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My friend Annette, who writes the blog Learning to Listen, recently shared a very moving and inspiring post that includes a “Depression Manifesto.”  It has inspired me to start thinking about my own life as someone who suffers the same “family curse.”

Yes, I suffer depression and anxiety.  Whenever I’ve mentioned health problems in my writing, I’ve almost always meant those, although I’ve tended not to name them.  Well, I’m naming them now.  Depression.  Anxiety–particularly social anxiety.  Sometimes a strain of obsessive-compulsive disorder that usually manifests in over-scrupulosity–to which I have referred before.

I also get painfully fixated on things in my past that I regret.  I play them and re-play them in my mind, over and over and over, to the point where I’m just about driven to despair, desperately wishing I could somehow go back and fix them, do things differently, but knowing full well that it’s impossible.  Several days ago, I was in such an agony.

But then I thought back to Annette’s post… I remembered that I was not the only one who experienced such dark moments… remembered that I am not insane…. remembered that all is not lost.

I also turned to God and asked Him what I should do.  I asked my dad too–because he has always known what to do.

And what came to me was something extremely simple:  Just go forth and live each day in such a way as will make God smile.  The past can’t be undone, but the future is still brimming over with opportunities and possibilities.  The future rushes in to every single moment, and every single moment you can choose to do something good, something loving, something beautiful… even if it can’t necessarily be seen or heard or felt by your fellow man; sometimes the greatest deeds are secret, known only to God Himself–and that is enough!  When you make God smile, you can be sure that you are having some kind of wonderful effect on something or somebody somewhere.  Just live for God and His smile!  Even if you don’t feel like smiling yourself.

I know maybe it’s a little silly, maybe even a little conceited, to think of myself making God smile.  But it gives me a goal, a prize, a purpose.  Something to keep my eyes trained on.  Something to draw me out of myself even if I feel very isolated in this world.  It dispels darkness and despair.  It fills my heart with love and tenderness, eagerness and energy.  I love Him, and don’t we always strive to bring our loved ones joy?

Anyway, I have decided that that is how I want to live my life in every little moment.


We’ve had quite a winter storm this week.  I think the Super Bowl teams brought it with them from up north!  This whole region has been iced over since yesterday.  Most roads are impassable.  All the schools, including my university, have been closed since then, and some will be closed again tomorrow.  So, needless to say, I haven’t left home!

Although I worry about people who have no homes, or no power, or no choice but to get out on the hazardous roads… I have to say I am thankful for this respite.  It has helped me to relax and to get my head on straight, without the stress of missing work or class.

What I need more than anything is to re-focus on my relationship with God and my spiritual life.  Both have been a little… cold, if you will.  I feel the iciness outside within me.

I’m sure it’s partly the usual pall that grief and clinical depression cast over them, and everything else.  But it’s partly just me.  I’ve been focusing on the wrong things and the wrong people.  Getting my priorities mixed up.  Lacking in discipline.  And then, there’s discouragement.

Sometimes I feel like I have completely regressed and devolved in my spiritual life.  That all the experience and insight I’ve received over the last 5-6 years has up and abandoned me.  I sometimes feel that even God has abandoned me.  I feel so in the dark.

I know intellectually that there is probably a good reason.  Maybe I’ve been relying on my own knowledge too much, fancying myself to be wise, when in reality I’ve been losing touch with true wisdom, divine wisdom, He who is Wisdom.

I know intellectually that I will learn and grow and benefit in many other ways.  Virtues will flourish, my spiritual compass will sharpen, my trust and devotion will deepen.

I know intellectually that God is still with me, just as close as ever, and perhaps even more so.  A priest told me that sometimes God becomes so close to us, so entwined with us, that we can’t see Him.  It may seem like He has gone away, but He is really closer than ever.  I believe that.

I know all of this.  But it certainly doesn’t feel good.  I feel lonely and lost and on the verge of hopelessness.  Spiritually frozen.  Yearning for warmth and light.

I’m trying to think of it as just a natural season, like a winter that will soon enough turn into spring and bear fruit.

But it’s still difficult.

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